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Jul 2, 2011 08:51 AM

Vegetarian Dim Sum at Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant (SGV)

Every once in a while people here ask for vegetarian dim sum, and the common retort is "well, no can do, Kimosabe, because y'know, those darn Chinese folks always use pork stock in everything, yada yada yada ..."

Well, now there's a respite for those wanting vegetarian dim sum.

Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant in San Gabriel on Las Tunas Dr. -- a vegetarian restaurant by trade that's in the ilk of Happy Family -- is now offering a full vegetarian dim sum menu. And, get this, it's offered all day. Yes, all day!

So now Fine Garden has satiated 2 of the most commonly asked requests of dim sum on these boards: (1) vegetarian dim sum and (2) dim sum at dinner.

What's the world coming to? Kosher restaurants offering bacon milkshakes with beef jerky swizzle sticks??


Fine Garden Vegetarian Restaurant

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    1. re: wienermobile

      Let me clarify something.

      I have NOT tried any of their wares, so I cannot vouch for the quality (or lack thereof) of the dim sum offerings.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I will not hold you to it. I Promise.

    2. Is this like the "vegan charcuterie" I saw touted by a highly-regarded restaurant in Berkeley? (I refused to eat there. I've got my standards.) I suppose it falls into the category of - there's something for everyone. (What a wonderful world!) Good to know that the next time a vegetarian friend asks to accompany me to dim sum I can send them somewhere - though probably without me along for the ride.

      1. Thanks. I like vegetarian Chinese food, and the pictures look really good.

        1. I'd been driving by the sign for a few weeks, and after this post, decided to check it out.

          Overall, not too bad. Supposedly they make all the items in-house. I think they're trying to keep some customers coming in... several of their waitstaff moved over to the new vegetarian place that opened on Baldwin and Las Tunas, and between that place and the one in Da Hua Plaza, Fine Garden is probably no longer near the top of the heap as far as Buddhist vegetarian places.

          Sadly, no chang fun, but they do have some "Chaozhou 粉果" (fen guo) (kind of like xiajiao / hargow), with various fillings, "pork" shumai (didn't try, but my wife did), radish cakes (a little bland, and the sauce was gross). Lotus buns, pretty good. The osmanthus jello thing is, I think, a bit better elsewhere, and had a funky smell from the fridge. In this sense, trying to do it 7 days all day is a bit ambitious. For those of you who prefer your vegetarian dim sum at a less traditional time, there is a 10% discount between 3 PM and 5 PM, though.

          I have to say, though, even given the relatively slim veggie pickings at King Hua, the veggie stuff I was able to eat there the next morning was way better than anything I had at Fine Garden. But I am really happy that there's a pure vegetarian dim sum option here in LA (there is one in Manhattan Chinatown, but as far as I know, there's never been one here).

          King Hua Restaurant
          2000 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

          4 Replies
          1. re: will47

            Thanks for the info. I've never had their dim sum, although I did have some of their regular menu items about a year ago.

            1. re: raytamsgv

              I think the dim sum menu is new-ish. I eat there occasionally (it's near my house and work), and I've never seen it before. The sign advertising it is related to their 4th anniversary, and also mentions the new dim sum menu -- it's been up for maybe 3-4 weeks now?

              1. re: will47

                Since June 1.

                I just spoke to someone in the industry and they tell me that Happy Veggie Garden out in Rowland Heights is contemplating offering a vegetarian dim sum menu on the weekends only.

                The world *is* ending as we know it ...

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  "Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose.”
                  ~C. Wright Mills

          2. So is this a recent trend? I'm surprised this wasn't more readily available in the past.

            SGV's Focus Plaza's sister mall Milpitas Square in Northern California opened up in 1996 and we had our first buddhist Taiwanese vegetarian place "Lu Lai Garden" (I'm sure Chandavkl would remember this place at least by name). They were the only place around that offered a small variety of Cantonese vegetarian (wait, make that buddhist vegan) dim sum. Yep, wheat gluten/tofu cut into shrimp sizes with painted red stripes for effect, vegetarian ha gow. Yes there was bamboo shoots in it, but the whole thing was dry. Healthy...but difficult to swallow.
            I'm still inclined to believe these things were invented just to help meat and fat eaters who are forced to go on a vegan or vegetarian diet, to help ease the transition.

            I think there would definitely be a market for something like King Join 京兆尹 in Taipei for SGV, high end Qing dynasty style small plate vegetarian, but w/o the crazy price tags. Then again this niche isn't as mainstream and popular as dim sum.

            4 Replies
            1. re: K K

              "...fat eaters..."

              I personally prefer "gravitationally-challenged" myself :-)

              1. re: raytamsgv

                Changing a line out of Homer Simpson used by Bourdain in Singapore...."pork fat is the answer to and the cause of all of life's problems".

                1. re: raytamsgv

                  ... "proportionally shaped" eaters.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    No disrespect towards those of any size....

                    my definition of fat eaters = the eaters of fat = consumption and enjoyment of fatty foods, poly and unpoly, i.e. the "toro" of protein. Food loving people need some chin dribbling greasy goodness sometimes too, whether it be that extra fat in a dim sumpling to give it that extra old school ooomph. Now if this can be encapsulated and made into vegan form...